Why You Need an Elevator Pitch
And How to Create one
The author discusses why one needs an elevator speech and how to prepare the elevator speech. If you have such a speech, how is that working?
Do you have an elevator pitch? Â Is it working for you? Â If your answer to either question is no, you are not alone.
There are several proven approaches for improving your elevator pitch.Â But first, I should define the term.Â As you might already know, the idea had its start in the world of venture capital, when companies looking for funding needed a simple, clear and concise way to describe what they did.Â The idea was to prepare yourself in case you got an amazing break: getting onto an elevator and meeting a potential investor.Â In the classic scenario, you only have the time it takes for your target to reach his or her floor to make your pitch.
Over time, of course, the idea has become applicable in many different industries, and many scenarios.Â It has also come to refer more generally to a prepared, concise description of either a firm or an individual that stresses their relevance and uniqueness.Â It also can be used not only to pitch to an actual client, but also to people who might refer you to new clients as well.Â Now, onto some proven tips and strategies!
Your Elevator Pitch Must Answer Three Questions
First and most importantly, your pitch needs to describe what you do.Â The second question it must answer is who you provide services forâ€”i.e., your target audience.Â This point is crucial for helping people who are not your target audience to make an appropriate referral.Â The third thing an elevator pitch must do is describe something about how you are differentâ€”in other words, why people should choose your firm over any other.
Tips for Creating an Effective Pitch
If what you have read so far sounds simple, it is not.Â Summarizing what you do and why you are different succinctly generally takes some time to create and practice.Â Here are some tips:
- Make it short enough to be easy to remember and say. You do not want to sound like you are giving a speech.Â So, get right to the point, and make it easy for your audience to remember.
- Make it sound natural. The last thing you want to create is something that may look good on paper, but when you actually say it to someone, sounds stilted, awkward or â€ścanned.â€ť Â To avoid these problems, try reading your pitch out loud.Â Make it sound natural, straightforward, and something you could actually say in a conversation.
- Avoid industry jargon. Granted, there will be times, such as industry conferences, where you can safely assume anyone you meet will understand your jargon.Â But there will be many, many other networking opportunities, even social situations, where people outside your industry will ask, â€śOh, and what do you do?â€ť Â In such cases, giving a pitch that is natural, easy-to-understand, and avoids any jargon will help people better understand and remember you.
- Create an elevator pitch that tells a brief story. In other words, you could say something like, â€śA few years ago, I used to get frustrated, but hereâ€™s what I did.Â I started my own firm that does X, Y, and Z.â€ť Â In other words, make it a story, something that is easy for people to remember.Â This may be one of the most important tips I can share.
- Last but not least, be consistent. Recently an associate and I realized we had a mutual acquaintance.Â Out of curiosity, I asked if she had ever referred potential clients to him.Â She said he had not, and explained, â€śIâ€™ve asked him what his firm does three times and got different explanations each time.Â So, I still donâ€™t really know what they do.â€ť Â If people do not understand what you do and why it is relevant, they simply will not refer you.
So, armed with these tips, I wish you the best of luck in finding what differentiates you and creating an elevator pitch to convey that.Â If you want to learn more about this topic, I suggest checking out an online course about differentiation and positioning that my firm offers.Â The course goes into the topic more deeply and provides additional insight about how to create a winning elevator pitch for your firm.
Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is Managing Partner at Hinge, the leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.
Dr. Frederiksen can be contacted at (703) 391-8870 or by e-mail to LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com.